About a year ago Mary Margaret Health CEO Timothy Putnam realized something horrifying: his hospital was never designed for a pandemic.
On March 13, 2020, the 25-bed critical-access hospital in Batesville, Ind., saw its first patient with COVID-19. Two weeks later, the hospital was slammed with patients presenting with severe abdominal pain, headaches and backaches, many of whom were crashing and needed a ventilator within five to six hours.
“I found at that time we could adapt our facility a little bit, but it really wasn’t adaptable to what we needed,” Putnam said. “Our facilities’ lack of malleability really hindered our response to this. We have a good organization and we do our day-to-day jobs well, but this was different.”
The building, originally built in 1932 and renovated in 1971, all of a sudden needed to handle a large number of patients on oxygen. Margaret Mary quickly expanded to 40 beds, but there was never enough emergency department space or inpatient rooms for the influx of patients.
Since then, Putnam has made changes to the hospital, he told a virtual audience at the American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual congress on healthcare leadership. He and three other panelists provided tips for how health systems can rethink their facilities for life after the pandemic, and prepare for the next public health crisis. Panelists included American Structurepoint’s healthcare practice leader Rob Schoeck, Hord Coplan Macht principal Jim Albert and Hord Coplan Macht senior healthcare consultant Tracey Graham.